"Yeah, just a single for me, thanks."
Those words hurt more than anything Harry had said to him today. Louis watched, perplexed as the woman over the counter handed Harry his room key; a key that they would not be sharing.
"Dude, what's going on? You and Harry always share a room…"
Liam's words stung. He was right; they always did book a room together, it was just a habit now, ever since day one. They just clicked, as if they had both been waiting for each other. But right now, everything was the complete opposite, and it was tearing Louis apart.
He booked a single room as well - he didn't feel like bunking with any of the other three, no matter how much they insisted. Louis hadn't wanted to be alone in a long while; not since he met Harry.
Harry was breaking. Ever since he had stupidly set Louis up with Eleanor, time to spend with him became diminutive. The only reason why Harry set them up was because Louis said he was looking for something fun. Harry only thought it would be a one night stand, and Louis would return all of his undivided attention to him. But it didn't, and now, Harry was hurting.
And of course he felt bad about asking for a separate room - he didn't want that, he always wanted to bunk with Louis. But he thought he would be doing Louis a favour; they were in New York, Eleanor would be arriving here tomorrow with Danielle, and she and Louis probably wanted a room to themselves.
So he figured he was doing the right thing. But he was sure he would always regret the day he introduced the two.
It had been several hours since they had resided to their rooms, and Louis was still clueless as to why Harry didn't want to share a room with him. He didn't want to go over and demand explanation, Harry didn't have to share with him if he didn't want to, they were all human and they all needed some space now and then.
He decided he wouldn't worry about it.
It was late, he was hungry, and he hated cooking, so he put on the jumper Harry got him for Christmas and headed for the front door. And just as he walked out, two tall figures were just exiting the elevator, and pretty soon they were waving over at him.
"Louis, there you are!" it was Eleanor and Danielle, and they were soon followed by Paul escorting them.
"Hey guys, I thought you were arriving tomorrow," Louis started.
"We were, but Danielle couldn't wait to see Liam one more day, so we jumped on the first flight out." Eleanor laughed.
"Hey, you wanted to see Louis just as badly!" Danielle protested, shoving her lightly, before running off to Liam's room, with Paul trailing behind with her luggage.
Of course, Louis knew better.
There was comfortable silence for a while, "I'm sorry that you have to lie to her all the time," Louis said sympathetically, pulling her in for a warm hug. She sighed into his neck.
"No, it's not fun. She's like, one of my closet friends." Eleanor said, eyes downcast and biting her lip.
"Just a while longer, I promise. Just until the suspicions dial down." Louis was tired of saying that, he wished it wasn't like this, but management insisted greatly, pushing him to find a girl and pretend she was the love of his life. Easy? No, it was the hardest thing he had ever had to do. Especially since he had fallen head over heels in love with one Harry Styles.
Yeah, he was gay. So what of it? He had wanted to come out since they had been placed up together in the competition, but management didn't think or know how the public would react to it, saying it might affect their popularity. So he had to keep quiet. And it was killing him. All he wanted to do was tell the guys, tell the world, and tell Harry that he wanted to be with him and grow old and wrinkly together.
"Please be right, it's killing me seeing you like this all the time…" Eleanor spoke, squeezing his hand comfortingly.
Just at that moment, Harry stepped out of his room, froze, his eyes following Louis's and Eleanor's touching hands. Anger and jealousy boiled in his gut, hot and white, but he hid it well on his face, giving a smile at both of them.
"Harry, hey, how have you been?" Eleanor asked, quickly withdrawing her hand to her side. Louis knew it wouldn't do much help.
Harry's smile was beginning to tighten. "I'm good, fine, just fine. It's nice to see you Eleanor, but I'm sorry, I'm in a bit of a rush, so," Harry said, gesturing to the elevator.
"Oh, okay, I'll see you later then?"
"Yeah, absolutely, bye."
And then he was gone. Louis let out a choked breath, his vision clouded by unshed tears. He was then gently pulled into his room, ears filled with reassurances and hopes, promises he didn't know would last.
"Hey, why do you think Harry got a single room?" Niall asked the room, busy munching away on whatever it was he pulled out of the fridge.
Zayn had let him in earlier, he didn't know why - Niall was obviously going to finish off his week's worth of food in an hour. "I honestly don't know, he was fine this morning, wasn't he?"
Niall nodded in agreement, "Yeah, right up until Liam mentioned Danielle flying in," he frowned. "What would that have to do with anything?"
Zayn shrugged, picking out a cigarette from his pocket and walking out on to the balcony.
"You know, one day I'm gonna run for president, and then once I'm elected, I'm starting a petition to ban cigarettes forever, just so you'll stop."
Zayn laughed. "Or an easier way, you could just keep hiding them from me,"
"We tried that, remember? It didn't work out so well,"
Another chuckle. "Well, keep trying, someday maybe things will have changed."
Harry needed to forget, the image of Louis and Eleanor together still clear in his mind. So tonight he was gonna get lucky.
Finding a club in New York was pretty easy, and tonight he wasn't going to be picky about which girl he would get, he just needed a warm body.
'And that is probably why Louis doesn't want to be with you, Harry, with horrible thoughts like that.' Harry shook his head, shoving his hands further into his pockets. He noticed a girl sitting by the bar, long, wavy brown hair catching his attention. It was go time.
"Lou, I'm sorry, but I can't let you pretend anymore, I hate seeing you like this, please go and find Harry and tell him!" Eleanor insisted, throwing her hands up in frustration. They had been arguing about it for hours, after Eleanor had gotten Louis to spill about the past couple of days.
"Eleanor, please, I can't, management would rip me a new one," Louis sighed, wanting nothing more than to go out and spill his heart out to Harry.
"No, no! I'm not accepting that answer, it's either you tell him, or I do."
Louis was torn. Never had he wanted more in his life to tell someone anything, but at the same time, he had never been more afraid to say it as well. He thought about the future a lot, who he imagined spending the rest of his life with, someone that just understood him so well, and all he saw was… Harry.
In one last second of decision, Louis jumped up, grabbed his coat and dashed for the door.
"Yes, yes, finally, go get him Lou!"
Louis turned back, gave a quick grin and shouted "Be back before dinner!" before running out of the room.
It was a Friday night, so Louis knew exactly where Harry would be. Even if it hurt to think about.
Knowing Harry and how lazy he could be, he probably went to the closet club to their hotel. He found it quite easy, its colour and noise intensely jarring. Louis scanned the area, trying to pinpoint a mop of curly hair. It wasn't hard.
Harry froze, not sure if he should turn around, not wanting to draw attention; he didn't know if paparazzi were here or not, and he didn't want to risk it. But he heard the voice again, a different name this time, "Barry!" Only one person called him that, and his head whipped around so fast it made him dizzy.
"Lou… what… are you doing? Here, I mean," Harry, to surprised to remember the girl standing next to him, walked over to where Louis was standing. "And, why are you sweating? Did you run here?"
"I…" Louis stopped, glanced over Harry's shoulder at the girl eagerly awaiting his return, and completely lost all of his confidence. "I… um, just, wanted to ask… did you want to share a cab tomorrow?"
Harry stared at him. "That's it? That's all you wanted?" Harry didn't even bother to hide his disappointment, he wanted Louis to know he was hurting, he wanted Louis to feel how broken he was, he wanted it to end.
Louis took a breath, averted his gaze, and sighed. "Uh, yeah, yep, that was it. Uh, have nice night, Harry."
And all Harry heard was 'Have a nice life without me.'
Louis walked home to an empty suite, a note from Eleanor saying she didn't want to be there when the two of them returned to 'make sweet, sweet gay love' to each other, expecting it to get a laugh out of him. But he wasn't laughing now; he didn't know what to do. If Harry felt anything for him, why would he be out hooking up every other night?
Louis retired to the couch, turning the TV on to some lame ass infomercial, and before he knew it, he had fallen asleep.
What felt like hours later, although just 30 minutes, Louis woke up, the glare of the TV blinding him. He shut it off, stretched his legs, and did what he did best; he thought about Harry.
It was late, the numbers 2:56 registering into his mind like a harsh reminder. Harry would have his date back in his room, all spent and lucky to cuddle next to Haz. Out of fury, Louis threw the cup he was holding into the wall, the shards of glass springing out in all directions. The piercing sound got Louis' attention, and before he knew it, he was banging on Harry's door, demanding entrance.
"Harry! Harry, open up, right now!"
And he did. But he didn't look as Louis imagined him; instead of sex hair and a blissful look in his eye, Louis saw sadness, red rings shaping his eyes, the jumper he had gotten Harry last year.
Harry turned angry, "Yes Louis, we can also each pay half our lunch bill tomorrow. Okay, is that all? Great, goodnight-"
Louis jumped into Harry's threshold, "Harry, please, I need to tell you something, please let me explain,"
"What? What could you possibly say that can make me feel better?"
Louis pushed past him, scanning the area for Harry's lucky lady for the night. "Um, where's your lay?"
"My lay? Please, I didn't bring her back here,"
"Oh, so you made a trip to her house? How old was she anyway?"
"Oh, shut up Louis, I can get with whomever I want, I don't need your approval. Just tell me why you're here so I can kick you out."
Louis lost it then. "You know what, you, Harry, are being a dick. I don' know what happened, one minute we were best friends, then suddenly, every since we got to New York you've acted like a complete asshole. And I want to know why. Was it something I did? Said? Please for the love of God tell me so I can fix it, I need my best friend back!"
"You need YOUR best friend back? Are you serious?" Harry stormed right up in Louis's face. "Ever since you started dating Eleanor, she's all you ever talk about, and it hurt oaky? More than you know. I felt like I was losing you, day by day, and being reminded about her coming here was another slap in the face. So that's why I was distant, that's why I got another room, so you and she could be together, just like you want - no Harry, just Eleanor!" Harry finished, tears clouding his vision.
Louis was shocked. "That's why you've been avoiding me? Because of Eleanor? You never used to do that before, why now, because, Harry, seriously, I'm not leaving until you tell me wh-"
"It's because I love you!"
And of all the things Louis was expecting to hear come out of Harry's mouth, that was not one of them. It didn't make sense.
"W-what? How does that… but you…"
Harry looked at him, a look Louis had been on the receiving end of for a long time, but he never knew what it was – what it meant. He knew now. It was so clear in Harry's eyes, it sparked something inside Louis, made his heart skip a beat; it was everything he had ever wanted.
"What about your… your conquests? The slew of women you've always had pouring out of our apartment?"
Harry turned away, looked out at the skyline of lights and dark alleyways and crowded streets. "Yeah, that, well, at first it was to distract myself, convince myself I wasn't falling for you, and then, remember that phone call you had with her, that really long one – I couldn't do it anymore. But I didn't want to seem different, so I still went out, did the same things, but nothing ever happened – just like tonight, I didn't sleep with that woman."
Louis couldn't breathe. "Harry…"
"I'm sorry," Harry cut in. "This isn't what you want to hear from your colleague/roommate/best friend, and I know you're gonna be uncomfortable, and we're probably never going to share a room again, and you'll want me to try and get over my feelings, go back to before this whole bag of shit came out and-"
And Louis's lips were not what he was expecting. Lips slamming against lips, furious, hands gripping anything they could; hair, face, waist – they were everywhere. Harry chocked on a sigh, so relieved to have Louis, here, in his arms… and with Eleanor right across the hallway. Harry shoved him away.
"What are you doing? You're with Eleanor, how did this happen?" Harry was breathing hard, heart pounding so loud it was ringing in his ears.
Louis smiled. Finally. "She's not my girlfriend."
"She's - wait, what?"
"She's not my girlfriend. She's a beard. I was told at the very beginning of our careers that I needed to 'be' straight, because being gay could ruin our image, and I hated that. I didn't want to do it, but, I didn't want to risk losing you, in any way. So I kept my mouth shut."
"But, you told me to set you two up, why would you-"
"I was told that would be more believable, if a friend introduced us, and I knew you would pick someone great for me, so when I told her about it, she agreed, under one condition: that I tell you how I really felt."
Harry couldn't believe it. He didn't know how he should feel. He had no right to be angry at Louis for hiding his sexuality; he had done the exact same thing. But it still felt like betrayal, Louis pretending to love this girl. Harry stayed silent, waiting for Louis to say something.
Louis looked broken by this point. "Harry, please, please say something. I don't know how to make this right…" he begged, tears imminent.
Harry looked him dead in the eye. "I do."
Louis looked so relieved, "Good, please, tell me, I'll do anything…"
Harry continued staring, he didn't blink, didn't move. "Tell me you love me."
Louis grinned, the rise of his cheek bones causing the tears in his eyes to spill. "I love you, so much, I-"
"Tell me you'll end it with Eleanor."
"Not that there was anything, but of course-"
"Tell me that we can tell the boys."
"Yes, I've wanted to for so long-"
"And…" Harry smiled. "Tell me that we can tell the world."
Louis stalked over to Harry, cupped his face so gently, and soundly kissed his lips. "Yes." Louis whispered, voice strong with emotion.
And that was all Harry needed.
Harry woke up first, realised that he and Louis had fallen asleep sometime last night when they were talking together on his bed. He guessed he must've dozed off first, wondered if Louis watched him sleep; he hoped he didn't look to embarrassing.
"You were beautiful," Louis spoke, startling Harry.
"I said that out loud, huh?" Harry laughed.
Louis chuckled. He went to stretch his legs, only to realise that his were tangled up with Harry's. He sighed blissfully, enjoying this moment to every last detail. He was in Harry's bed, his room, his life – and he had never been happier. He needed Harry to know that.
"Harry…" Harry slowly focused on him, Louis' tone catching his attention. "About everything… I, I did a bad thing, I made bad decisions, I lied to my best friend, my family, and I'm probably going to disappoint a few people, but… I want you to know that even after all of this, I'm still the same guy you first met the day we were put together, the same guy that shared rooms with you, played video games with you, listened to you when you were feeling like shit. I'm still the same guy who's been in love with you from day one."
Harry's sharp intake of breathe filled the room. "It's been that long?"
Louis let out a slow breath. "Yep." He looked sad.
"I'm sorry, that you had to go through all of this alone," Harry felt dejected, hating himself for being so selfish.
"Hey, hey, look at me," Louis spoke, fingers cupping the back of Harry's head. "I didn't do it alone, you helped more than you know, just by being in my life,"
"And now, we're doing it together. Until the end." Harry declared, rolling on top of Louis, kissing him fiercely.
Louis wouldn't argue with that, his hands slipping under Harry's shirt, the feel of Harry's smile against his lips, Harry taking his mind far far away.
"Hasn't it been going on for, like-"
"Months or something? Seriously you two, you didn't think you were being subtle did you?"
Harry's eyes went wide. "Uh, we thought we were, uh, wait, Louis, what am I saying?" He turned to his boyfriend for support.
Louis didn't know what to say. He thought the other boys would at least be a little shocked; it's not every day two of your closest friends declare they're in love with each other. "Um, well, it doesn't really matter, I guess, but Harry and I are together, and we're going to be telling the whole world, and we need your support."
"Even if we get bad press, your opinions are really the only ones that matter," Harry finished, reaching out for Louis's hand.
Niall jumped off the couch over to them, giving both of them hugs that would probably leave a bruise. "DUH! Of course, you guys are all like my best friends, ain't nothing going to change that!"
"What Niall said. You guys are my second family, and Harry and Louis – you guys are actually quite perfect for each other." Liam smiled, and Louis noticed, for just a second, Liam give the quickest glance at Zayn, his eyes switching to something loving. Louis grinned, rubbed his thumb over Harry's, and reminded himself to talk to Liam later about it.
"Well," Zayn spoke, "As long as you two aren't loud, I'm cool. I just don't want anything disturbing my sleep."
They all burst out laughing - if that wasn't a blessing from Zayn then they didn't know what was.
"Jesus, do you know how fucking sexy you are when you do, like, everything?"
Louis laughed at his boyfriend. "I could say the same thing about you." He tugged at the belt loops on Harry's pants, pulling him over to lay next to him on the couch. "Wanna watch this movie with me?"
Harry snuggled up next to him, resting his head on his shoulder. "Sure, what is it?"
Harry laughed, Louis joining in a moment later. They watched the movie together, quoting the lines they knew, even acting out a couple of scenes, using the objects that were available around them. They soon realised how late it was, and decided to head off to Harry's bedroom.
They talked about their days, as they both had separate schedules, Harry with modelling, Louis with recording. Louis told Harry about how happy and proud Eleanor was for him, literally jumping up and down with joy.
"I know I have no need to be, but she still makes me kind of jealous," Harry commented, his fingers playing with the strings on Louis's jumper. "She knew so much more about you and I didn't,"
Louis smiled, thoughts of how adorable his boyfriend was taking over his mind. "Well, now you know." Louis feigned shock. "Wait, you do know I'm gay and totally madly in love with you, right?"
Harry snorted, hid his face in Louis' neck. "No, I didn't know, especially not when you had your tongue down my throat a minute ago,"
"Well then, I guess I'm just going to have to prove it to you then," Louis said, flipping Harry onto his back, smiling down at him.
"Louis…" Harry whispered, his hand stroking Louis's cheek. "You told me yesterday that you've been in love with me since the X factor… when… when exactly did you know? Maybe I might remember,"
Louis smiled, leaned down to kiss Harry's nose, "The very first time…" Louis continued along Harry's jaw bone, "Was just before judges houses, when we were rehearsing 'Torn', and when you sang the chorus, I just… my heart melted, that's really the only way to describe it. I don't know what happened, one minute you were my band mate, and the next, you were so much more." More kisses on his eyelids. "I didn't know what that meant at the time, but looking back on it now, I'd say that was definitely when my heart started belonging to you."
Harry hadn't realised he had stopped breathing, his lungs began hurting. "Lou…" Harry had never felt so many emotions at a single time before. He gripped Louis tighter, fear that Louis might disappear in the blink of an eye. This was too much. "You own every part of my heart, it's been yours for months… and I know… it always will be."
Louis leant down, brought his lips to Harry's ear. "Harry, I need you, please, right now, I can't wait any longer."
Harry had never agreed to something more in his life.
"Are we ready for this?" Louis had been asking Harry this several times over the past hour, making sure.
The sound of the crowd was heart stopping, making them feel both elated and scared. But they were doing this. It was time.
Harry looked at his boyfriend, his partner, his other half, and grinned. "Bring it on."
Hand in hand, they stepped out onto the other side of the curtain, felt the rush of adrenaline as they both could be themselves for the first time.
Louis looked over at Harry and breathed, in awe of how wonderful his life had become, and as Harry turned to smile at him, Louis felt, for the first time ever, that he was finally where he was meant to be.